GULF IN REVIEW
19 - 24 January 2020
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 21 January—South Korea announced that it will temporarily expand the operational area of its anti-piracy mission to protect Korean vessels in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Gulf amid heightened regional tensions. The South Korean operation will be independent of the US-led mission, just like the Japanese one, but two liaison officers will be stationed at the US-led mission’s headquarters in Bahrain.
Thursday, 23 January—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa visited Morocco and met with King Mohammed VI, with whom they reviewed bilateral ties and cooperation. Additionally, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, held talks with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, in Rabat, reiterating Bahrain’s support for Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara and discussing regional issues with focus on Libya.
Thursday, 23 January—Bahrain participated in the 8th dialogue between the League of Arab States Permanent Representatives and the Political and Security Committee of the Council of the European Union in Brussels. The talks centred around the Middle East Peace Process, situation in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iran, issues related to counter-terrorism efforts, migration and refugees. The two sides agreed on strengthening Euro-Arab cooperation and coordination within the established framework, notably in conflict prevention, early warning, crisis management, migration and arms control.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 19 January—Iraq’s Minister of Defence, Najah Al-Shammari, met with Kuwait’s Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and Defence Minister, Ahmad Al-Mansour, during his two-day visit. The two sides discussed plans to enhance the Kuwaiti-Iraqi land and maritime border cooperation.
Tuesday, 21 January—Members of Kuwait’s National Assembly ratified the Neutral Zone agreement signed with Saudi Arabia in December—7 MPs were against, while 55 MPs voted in favour. The agreement delineates the border in the Neutral Zone between the two countries and details control-related issues, which should lead to restarting oil production in the shared fields.
Thursday, 23 January—Kuwait’s National Assembly Speaker, Marzouq Al-Ghanem, and his accompanying parliamentary delegation, met in Ankara with Speaker of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Şentop. They reviewed parliamentary cooperation and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, along with the latest regional developments and ways to coordinate positions between the two countries’ and among Islamic parliaments on key issues.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 21 January—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, held talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Tehran,. The talks focused on bilateral relations and cooperation as well as the latest regional developments, especially the situation in Iraq and the tensions with Washington. The same day, an Iranian delegation was visiting the Sultanate and met with Dr Saud bin Hamoud Al-Habsi, Oman’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, exploring investment opportunities in the field of fisheries.
Thursday, 23 January—Oman’s Minister Responsible For Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos. On the sidelines, he held talks concerning bilateral ties and regional developments with several officials, notably President of Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the Head of Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Ignazio Cassis, among others.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 20 January—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, conveyed an oral message from the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to Kuwait’s Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, concerning bilateral ties and issues of common concern, during his visit to Kuwait.
Monday, 21 January—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, held official talks with Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella, in Doha. They discussed bilateral relations and means to develop them in various fields, as well as the latest regional developments.
Monday, 21 January—Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority signed an agreement with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the collection and exchange of information on civil aviation safety, joining the EU Ramp Inspection Programme. The move will boost cooperation and exchange of information between the two agencies.
Monday, 21 January—The Qatari-French Joint Higher Military Committee, led by Chief of Staff of the Qatar Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Ghanem bin Shaheen Al-Ghanem, and French Chief of the Defence Staff, General Francois Lecointre, met in Paris. Lt Gen Al-Ghanem also met with the Head of the French General Directorate for Armament, General Thierry Carlier, and the Chief of the Military Staff of the President of the Republic, Admiral Bernard Rogel. The meetings addressed issues related to bilateral military cooperation.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 19 January—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud received Cyprus’ Foreign Minister, Nikos Christodulides, in Riyadh. During the talks, King Salman expressed full support for Nikosia and its territorial sovereignty amid tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Additionally, they reviewed bilateral relations and issues of common concern.
Tuesday, 21 January—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, visited Brussels, where he held talks with a number of European officials, including Charles Michel, President of the European Council, to discuss strengthening cooperation between the EU and the Kingdom to jointly face common challenges.
Thursday, 23 January—The first two high-speed interceptor HSI32 boats arrived to the Royal Saudi Navy’s Ras Mishab base in the Eastern Province as part of the signed agreement with the French shipbuilding company, CMN, which includes manufacturing and supply of 39 boats, being made in both France and Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is also preparing to receive several military helicopters in the next few months.
Friday, 24 January—The talks between Greece’s Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, revolved around bilateral relations and the latest regional developments, particularly the situation in Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf.
United Arab Emirates
Saturday, 18 January—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, held discussions with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on the sidelines of the Berlin Conference on Libya, held in Germany. They discussed deepening the UAE-German strategic partnership, enhancing security and stability in the Middle East and supporting the peace efforts to end the Libyan conflict.
Tuesday, 21 January—The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed a strategic framework agreement with the Italian energy major, Eni, to explore new opportunities for collaboration in carbon capture utilisation and storage and they agreed to cooperate on other research and development opportunities across the oil and gas value chain.
Tuesday, 21 January—UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held talks with the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, in London, focusing on ways to boost cooperation and coordination, the Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai, and the numerous regional crises, including Syria, Iraq, Libya and Iran. The United Kingdom seeks to advance partnerships as it prepares to leave the European Union on 31 January.
Thursday, 23 January—Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), met in Brussels to discuss joint EU-UAE cooperation, particularly regarding the Expo 2020 Dubai as well as the situation in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Yemen. Both sides expressed interest in enhancing cooperation and HR/VP Borrell lauded the UAE’s regional and international role.
Friday, 24 January—Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in Paris. They discussed boosting cooperation, notably in education, technology and culture and reviewed the situation concerning Libya, Iran and Sudan. Earlier this week, the French Foreign Ministry announced that it secured the backing of eight European Union members (re: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal) for the naval patrolling mission in the Strait of Hormuz, which will be based out of France’s military base in Abu Dhabi.